Great Blue Heron awards recognize long-time dedication

Every year, Sound Rivers recognizes quite a few partners in clean water, as a thank you for their efforts and dedication to our mission.

The awards are usually given out during the Sound Rivers’ spring board meeting, but this year, COVID-19 curtailed the gathering where the 2019 awards would have been announced. We’ve decided to wrap things for up the year with scaled down, virtual and individual awards meetings, instead.

We appreciate all of our many volunteers and supporters, who help us keep our water swimmable, fishable and drinkable. Here are a few who’ve gone above and beyond for Sound Rivers, our mission and our waterways!

Heather Deck, Sound Rivers’ Executive Director, recently met with long-time volunteer Grace Evans to give her the Great Blue Heron Award. (Photo by Jill Howell)

Great Blue Heron Awards

The Great Blue Heron Award is given in recognition of long-term contributions to the protection of the Neuse and/or Tar-Pamlico and/or to the success of the Sound Rivers and its predecessor organizations. Selected by the Sound Rivers’ board, more than one recipient may be awarded annually. It has been tradition for outgoing/retiring board members to be presented with a GBH award.

Recipients of the 2019 Great Blue Heron awards are Grace Evans, Lawrence Behr and Chris Smith.

Grace, who is 90 years old, has been involved with the Neuse River Foundation since its earliest days, and was instrumental in hiring North Carolina’s very first Riverkeeper.

“She’s been advocating for the Neuse River for 40 years and was a critical part of the success of the Neuse River Foundation in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Heather Deck, Sound Rivers executive director. “She continues to be a wonderful advocate for the protection of the Neuse River today.”

Chris Smith

Lawrence Behr

Both Lawrence Behr and Chris Smith are moving on from the Sound Rivers Board of Directors this year. Both have been greatly committed to the mission of the organization and have spent countless hours over the years as volunteer board members.

“Our board members are a hardworking crew. They participate in all our events, are wonderful ambassadors for the organization and are a big reason why Sound Rivers has been successful for the past 40 years,” Deck said. “Both Chris and Lawrence were here when we merged the two organizations (Neuse River Foundation and Pamlico-Tar River Foundation), and their leadership helped navigate the merger of the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico.”